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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Follow the Money: Emeryville's November Election Draws Sacramento Lobbying Group

Out-Of-Town Real Estate Interests Set Up Political Committee for Emeryville Election

Statewide Realtor Association Money Dump 
Special Moneyed Interests Work to Nix Local Control

Follow the Money; first in a series
The Tattler introduces a new feature for the 2014 election season: Follow the Money. 
This election cycle is shaping up to be very expensive and very far-flung with lots of money from out-of-town interests pouring into the city.  We plan on digging out and exposing this money from people and organizations we don’t know that are trying to change our town to their liking.  These unfamiliar individuals and interest groups may effect our November elections with all their spending in Emeryville but the Tattler is going to make sure that while they assert their influence, we’re going to expose who they are. 
Click on the 'Follow the Money' label at the bottom of this story or use the search bar to review the entire Follow the Money series.

Emeryville residents, get ready to get "IMPACed".
That being a big money dump from the California Association of Realtors political action committee to fight against a November election over local control of the town.
IMPAC, Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee, is the political action arm of the Sacramento based statewide Realtors Association, the State's top real estate lobbying group.
The issue at hand are two Emeryville ballot initiatives, both brought by unanimous consent of our City Council for a vote by the citizens November 4th; one being Measure U the Charter City Initiative, a local control initiative and the other Measure V, an initiative to establish a real estate transfer fee, the same fee charged by neighboring cities Alameda, Oakland and Berkeley.

The committee set up to fight both initiatives is calling itself "Citizens to Preserve Emeryville" and lists its Treasurer and Vice Treasurer as hailing from Sacramento and Oakland respectively.  The bank for  Citizens to Preserve Emeryville is in Roseville California.

Emeryville Chamber
of Commerce Vice Chair
Jason Crouch

His backing of the Realtors
subverted the will
of the Chamber. 
A check of the filing documents shows IMPAC has kicked off the spending on the Emeryville ballot initiatives with an initial drop of $20,000.  An extra $5,000 in "interboard solicitations" was also approved to fight Emeryville, IMPAC records showed.  With nearly unlimited resources available at the 160,000 member California Association of Realtors, more money could follow as the anti-Emeryville local control campaign progresses.

Chamber of Commerce's Interests Hijacked
The drama of the California Association of Realtors pushing their weight around Emeryville is further heightened by the unseemly spectacle of the Vice Chair of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce, Vallejo resident Jason Crouch, hijacking the Chamber's wishes by joining the fight against U&V.  The Board of the Chamber of Commerce has voted to join with the City of Emeryville and endorse both Measures but Mr Crouch signed his name and he included his Vice Chair position on the Chamber Board to the ballot measure arguments against U&V.  
The ballot measure arguments for and against will be in the official Voters Guide printed by Alameda County appearing in voter's mailboxes later this month.

The Sacramento real estate group's chief argument against the charter city initiative (a municipal governance model referred to as 'local rule' or 'home rule') is that it will allow Emeryville citizens themselves to decide many functions of governance that Sacramento now dictates with Emeryville as a 'general law' city.  The actual vote in November will only give Emeryville residents local rule to the extent that they decide whether to initiate a real estate transfer fee.  As it stands now Emeryville misses out on the funds from these transfers that our neighboring cities collect.

The City Council has noted with the demise of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency, an entity that formerly entailed 90% of the town, fully half of the city budget has been lost.  Infrastructure, parks, maintenance--the things City Hall builds for residents to retain the quality of life will be increasingly out of reach.  Further it should be noted that Sacramento gets to change the rules on general law cities moving forward.  That's what happened when the Redevelopment Agency was eliminated.  Without the local control that the charter city designation brings, Emeryville won't have a right to collect the same fees as the neighbors, putting our budget at risk.

Some are speculating the California Association of Realtors sees Emeryville's local control vote in November as potentially a landmark case, spurring other general law cities in California to became charter cities.


  1. Wow Tattler! This is a very important article for the voters of Emeryville (and beyond) to read. I will post this on Twitter now. Thank you for your research to keep Emeryville voters informed!

    Emeryville residents! Please register to vote this November 4th. And cast your vote!

    For more information on all of the Emeryville ballot measures contact the City Clerk, City of Emeryville: (510) 596-4300 and the League of Women Voters - Berkeley Albany & Emeryville (510) 843-8824

  2. Well Brian, you got my attention. You are dead wrong. Your thinking is the kind of thinking that got us into the $95Million debacle with Measure J. Tore down a perfectly good High School, only to find that the site was toxic, and the cost had soared to over $150Million. A Pioneering effort, leaving generations after us stuck.
    And, what about $3.7Million +/-, for the Art Center, and the money spent for the bridge over the railroad tracks. If we let them pick our pockets, they will just spend that money on ill conceived projects, and over employment.There is plenty of money for Emeryville to continue as it is, and we don't need to be restructured. You, and others who think like you, are misguided. Shame on you.
    I stand opposed! Down with measures U and V.

    1. Dead wrong about what? The vocal minority (in Emeryville) about this virtually all make their money from real estate. Got a few Emeryville condos perhaps Mr Anonymous? Well, it's understandable you don't want to have to pay any money for anything in the public commons (even though there's a sociopathic nature to this anti-govenment sentiment). The problem is the rest of us want to make a livable city...yes, I'm talking about the commons. So we're not really interested in your special interest desires....because we ARE interested in the people's interests. We have to at least maintain the infrastructure we have if not build more and better public amenities. And the problem there is we're on a glide path to insolvency. We won't have enough money to even maintain what exists here now. Emeryville was made up almost ENTIRELY of the Redevelopment Agency (unlike our neighbors) and the resultant budget sans RDA is not enough to fund what we have. All your claims of how nice Emeryville is right now doesn't take into account this simple but disturbing reality. Sorry, we're not going to take your word for it that Emeryville has plenty of money now and forever. We're looking at the actual budget. We don't proscribe to your "government is bad" notions. That's simplistic, cynical and childish.

  3. Also, see if you can run a story on the response of the Chamber to Jason and his rationale for opposition so we get the full story.

    1. If we can get them to talk, that would be an interesting story.

  4. Not if you're telling it.

    1. Mr Anon is back. Sounds like you've got hurt feelings.
      We recommend you get your news elsewhere...the Tattler's obviously not for you.

  5. Great article Brian (another reason why the city needs you). I guess a realtor opposing a real-estate transfer tax isn't too shocking ... but does he represent the interests of residents or small business (That's what I want to know and will ask him)? I've reached out to Mr. Crouch to see if he indeed wants to offer a retort to your piece. He said he'll get back to me after consulting his people. If not, I'd like to re-publish this verbatim for The E'ville Eye readers as I find it extremely important.

    1. No problem re-posting any or all of this story Rob.
      It looks as if Mr Crouch needs to check with the paymasters before having his say. A little surprising since he's so boldly gone rogue with regards to the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce Board. I guess he knows which side his bread is buttered on.